LEWISTON — Plans to bring a community market and food incubator space to downtown are set to move forward in 2024 after the organization behind the project faced several setbacks in 2023.
Last week, the City Council entered into an option agreement with the Lewiston-Auburn Community Market to purchase 171 Park Street, home of the Lewiston Police Department, which will be built in mid-2024 when the department moves to Bates. It is planned that the site will become vacant when it is relocated to. mill complex.
Kirsten Walter, director of St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, who has been leading the community market effort, said the Park Street location is “the only available location downtown that meets the needs of this project.” .
The organization is a cooperative run by a 17-member board of directors with an 18-month option to develop a community food center property that incorporates a grocery store, commercial kitchen, and cold storage for local produce. We plan to consider the possibility. Entrepreneurs and community members.
Walter said the project has already secured about $5 million through grants and donors. Recent community planning efforts such as Choice Neighborhoods and the Local Foods Action Plan “demonstrate the need for a downtown market with access to local groceries,” he said.
A city memo states that the goal of the Lewiston-Auburn Community Market is “to realize the community’s vision of a community food center that includes a permanent, affordable grocery store downtown.” has been done.
Walter said St. Mary’s Nutrition Center always receives requests from local groups who would like to use the kitchen, and a larger commercial kitchen at the Community Market would be available for events and rentals. He said it could also serve as an incubator space for local businesses to test their products. .
The proposed building exterior would be approximately 12,000 to 15,000 square feet.
The effort was initially in negotiations to move into the former Sun Journal building at 104 Park St., but got caught up in the middle of Lewiston Housing’s proposal to house a shelter there.
When Lewiston Housing proposed using state funds to operate a homeless shelter at 104 Park St. in spring 2023, city officials thought it would impact the Community Market project. Therefore, he opposed the idea. At the time, organizers said they had reached a handshake agreement to redevelop the venue.
According to a city memo, the Lewiston-Auburn Community Market “has made significant development progress at its previous location downtown, but unfortunately we have decided to exit the business and begin locating the site and planning the development all over again.” “The development ended in failure.”
An existing study of the building’s condition states it is in disrepair and recommends demolition, according to a City Council memo. The report states that the 18-month period will “enable LACM to conduct independent feasibility analyzes for demolition and new construction as well as rehabilitation.”
As part of the option, the Lewiston-Auburn Community Market will negotiate a fair market acquisition price for the property with the City Council. The estimated market value of the property is $850,000, according to the city.
“This is something we absolutely need downtown,” Councilwoman Linda Scott said last week. “I’m so glad you found a replacement.”
Deputy Economic Development Commissioner Misty Parker said the police department is expected to move to its new headquarters at Bates Mill No. 7 in mid-2024.
If approved, the estimated cost to redevelop the factory space was $12 million, with an annual rental rate of $420,000. Six years after the lease is signed, the city will have the option to purchase the building.
Firefighters rescue two people and a dog from Lewiston fire Tuesday night